A sea lion rescued last month from the Wedge in Newport Beach had to be euthanized after experts at the Pacific Marine Mammal Center discovered she had two gunshot wounds on her chest, officials announced Tuesday.
Newport Beach Animal Control first noticed the sea lion yearling, named Mandalorian by her rescuers, in distress at the Wedge on Dec. 16, 2019. PMMC rescued the sea lion and found two distinct gunshot wounds on her, most likely from a pellet gun.
One of the wounds was a draining abscess on her dorsal back, which was causing the sea lion pain and discomfort, and limiting her ability to move around normally, the organization said in a news release.
Mandalorian was monitored throughout the week after she was rescued, but despite treatment, her health continued to decline, officials said.
The sea lion was euthanized at PMCC's Laguna Beach facility on Dec. 22.
"Unfortunately, what we saw is taking place up and down the Pacific Coast. These are disgusting and intentional acts, many of which are pre-meditated," Peter Chang, CEO of PMMC said in a statement. "We know there are many out there that feel like they are competing with the sea lions for the same resources. However, there's a pathway for us to cohabitate with these precious marine mammals, and shooting them is not the way."
After experts conducted a necropsy on the sea lion, they discovered one of the bullets impacted between the rib and adjacent vertebrae, and most likely became infected. The second gunshot was lodged in the musculature between the ribs, officials said.
The gunshot pellets recovered from the sea lion's body will be sent to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Marine Fisheries Service Office of Law Enforcement for further investigation.